Keeping track of long-term biological trends in many marine habitats is a challenging task that is exacerbated when the habitats in question are in remote locations. Monitoring the ambient sound field may be a useful way of assessing biological activity because many behavioral processes are accompanied by sound production. This article reports the preliminary results of an effort to develop and use an Ecological Acoustic Recorder (EAR) to monitor biological activity on coral reefs and in surrounding waters for periods of 1 year or longer. The EAR is a microprocessor-based autonomous recorder that periodically samples the ambient sound field and also automatically detects sounds that meet specific criteria. The system was used to record the sound field of coral reefs and other marine habitats on Oahu, HI. Snapping shrimp produced the dominant acoustic energy on the reefs examined and exhibited clear diel acoustic trends. Other biological sounds recorded included those produced by fish and cetaceans, which also exhibited distinct temporal variability. Motor vessel activity could also be monitored effectively with the EAR. The results indicate that acoustic monitoring may be an effective means of tracking biological and anthropogenic activity at locations where continuous monitoring by traditional survey methods is impractical.